God’s Presence With His People
The scene is the dedication of God’s Temple built by King Solomon in Jerusalem. The conversation is recorded in 2 Chronicles 6-7. The tone is one of seriousness as Solomon asks God in in 6:40-41, “Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. Now then arise, O Lord God, [and come] to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength and power. Let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation and let Your godly ones rejoice in [Your} goodness.”
In chapter 7:1-3, the tone turns to one of exuberance as “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the [Shekinah] glory and brilliance of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter the house of the Lord because the glory and brilliance of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw how the fire came down and saw the glory and brilliance of the Lord upon the house, they bowed down on the stone pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and praised the Lord saying, ‘For He is good, for His mercy and lovingkindness endure forever.’
Now a long period of falling away is recorded throughout the Old Testament following this glorious event. We know that the Israelites turned away from God and worshiped other gods to God’s great grief and displeasure. And we know that by the time Jesus arrived on the scene in human form, He had to cleanse the temple because “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.” (Mt. 21:13). The temple was far from the house filled with God’s brilliance in 2 Chronicles.
God’s Presence With His People Today
Today it is clear that through the cleansing work of Jesus on the cross on our behalf and because the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in those who have received cleansing through Jesus, God is present today among us and we are His temple.
In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus said, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually – regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
Paul reminds the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 3:16, Do you not know and understand that you [the church] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells [permanently] in you [collectively and individually]? If anyone destroys the temple of God [corrupting it with false doctrine], God will destroy the destroyer; for the temple of God is holy (sacred), and that is what you are.
In 1 Peter 2:4-5 we are told, “Come to Him [the risen Lord] as to a living Stone which men rejected and threw away, but which is choice and precious in the sight of God. You [believer], like living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house for a holy and dedicated priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. And again in verses 9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession , so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
After a very long discussion of the significance of our salvation in I Peter 1, Peter reminds us in verses 22-25, “Since by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a sincere love of the believers, [see that you] love one another from the heart [always unselfishly seeking the best for one another], for you have been born again [that is, reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] not of seed which is perishable but [ from that which is] imperishable and immortal, that is, through the living and everlasting word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word [the good news of salvation] which was preached to you [Is. 40:6-8].
So brothers and sisters, I pose this question to all of us: How are we doing? Have we maintained the glory of God’s presence in our lives individually and collectively as we come together as God’s body representing Him to a lost world? Have we drifted far from God’s plan as did the Israelites?
Here is a picture I have in my mind: Each believing mom, dad, child, farmer, teacher, doctor, seamstress, artist, lawyer, musician, custodian, each believing person goes about his daily life bringing God’s light with him whatever he is doing, wherever he is going – loving as God loves, respecting as God respects, showing mercy as God shows mercy – and then coming together as God’s body, each contributing his individual light, to shine God’s Shekinah glory into all the world.
Are we doing this? It’s not too late. We need only to come to God, repent, tell Him we need His help to be what He desires us to be, and then live in the fullness of who and Whose we are.